Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

What Puts A Smile On Our Face?

Exodus 34:29
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.

Ray 2019What brings a smile to your face? Of course the first answer I would give these days is spending time with our children and grandchildren. We now have five grandchildren with a sixth on the way (eventually – an adoption from South Korea). Another answer might be this long 9 game winning streak by the Baltimore Ravens – which put them into the playoffs and currently the #1 seed in the AFC. Currently – the playoffs come through Baltimore. Another answer might be a late comeback by the #3 ranked Maryland Terp basketball team.

The Ravens have won the last two games – against two very good teams – by very close margins. They proved that they can win the close games against some very good teams. Of the current 11 playoff teams not the Ravens – the Ravens have beaten 6 of them – and some of those games were not even close.

I was smiling when the Terps came back from double digits down to win their opening Big10 game this week. The last second 3 pointer and and 1 of 2 free throws (the second missed on purpose with only 2.1 seconds remaining) had me cheering – loudly.

Still another reason to smile might be when my wife ran a 1/2 marathon. Another smile came across my face yesterday when several persons received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and others re-confirmed their faith. Other things bring a smile to my face – like when a friend makes a good shot in golf and gets excited about it. When we see someone with a smile on their face we usually think something just happened and we tend to be curious.

How about when people notice you have lost weight? Better yet – when they say something encouraging to you (if losing weight was what you were after). I remember when one of my daughters greeted me with a hug and she said – getting skinny dad – as she wrapped her arms around me? What about someone saying something about your new hairdo or your new dress (or suit)? How about the smell of your favorite food – or freshly baked bread – or bacon frying (that one always brings a smile to my face)? Continue reading

December 9, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Real Lasting Joy

Luke 1:47

…and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

Life ChangeSunday we begin a new sermon series on the Holy Spirit. The sermon titles are: The Holy Spirit ComesThe Power of the Holy SpiritThe Holy Spirit Helps Us – and Street Cred. These sermons will come from the Book of Acts. We have been studying the Book of Acts on Tuesdays in our two studies – one at 10:30 am and one at 7:00 pm. Both are co-ed and all are welcome. The last two Tuesdays – we’ve had 47 and 44 people between the two studies. You can listen to these sermons here when they are posted.

We’re headed to the Advent season in one month. The coming of Christ is a season of great joy. The joy that Jesus brings to all people is clear. Luke 2:10–11 – 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Jesus’ arrival brings great joy to the people – and not only to His people but to all who would hear and follow Him. Jesus was the Messiah – the Anointed One – the Deliverer – the One who would break the bonds of oppression for His people. Never before or since has the birth of a baby been so anticipated or sought after. Jesus’ birth was to bring great and lasting joy. Continue reading

November 1, 2019 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Can’t We Just Get Along?

Philippians 2:10

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth

Life ChangeIt seems that it is getting harder and harder to live at peace with folks. From politics to religion to sports to how we raise our children – people differ in their opinion and seem to have a hard time expressing themselves without anger and attitudes. On top of that – some people seem to have a hard time dealing with a differing opinion. We’ve lost the art of debate and disagreement. It seems many among us cannot disagree without being disagreeable. Why can’t we just get along?

This seems to be the case in the political world for sure. After eight years of a President popular with one segment of the country and hearing the other side complain – I can’t remember the same venom I am hearing today with the current President. The previous President could do no wrong – it seemed – with the media. This President cannot seem to do anything right – according to the reports in the media (most of the media). I have witnessed families and friends have issues because of which way they voted in the 2016 Presidential elections. The country is very divided – red and blue – right and left – ideologically. We’ll see what 2020 brings. Why can’t we just get along?

This same thing is happening in our denomination – with some not being able to accept a differing view (I understand that at times the differences are so great it is hard if not impossible to harmonize the differences – but we shouldn’t be angry or hateful toward those that hold a differing view). The far left has one theology and the far right has another – and not only can they not agree on their theology – we’re having a hard time agreeing on pastoral ministry. We’ll see what 2020 brings. Why can’t we just get along? Continue reading

October 31, 2019 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Should Give Our Anxiety To Jesus

1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Life ChangeAnxiety is tough to face. Anxiety is defined online as – a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Anxiety can overwhelm us. It can cause disorders and medical issues. It can immobilize us and take us down if we allow it to do so.

Anxiety can manifest itself in many ways. WebMD defines anxiety this way: Everyone feels anxious now and then. It’s a normal emotion. For example, you may feel nervous when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. Anxiety disorders are different, though. They are a group of mental illnesses, and the distress they cause can keep you from carrying on with your life normally. For people who have one, worry and fear are constant and overwhelming, and can be disabling. But with treatment, many people can manage those feelings and get back to a fulfilling life.

WebMD lists these among the anxiety disorders – panic disorders – social anxiety disorders – specific phobias – and generalized disorders. Each – if not treated – can be disabling. Some – who battle an anxiety disorder – are unable to function in society. Some need medication. Some need psychotherapy. Some may need both. But the passage today suggests another treatment for anxiety. We’re called to give our anxiety to Jesus. Continue reading

October 30, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Have You Ever Waited For Someone?

Philippians 3:20

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amHave you ever waited for someone? I remember – when I was a child – going on home visits with my parents. Dad was – of course – a pastor – and he and mom would go visiting from time-to-time and take me along (my sister too I guess). They would talk way into the night – or so it seemed. I remember – some through memory and some through stories and pictures – waiting for them to be ready to leave. Often – I would curl up somewhere and go to sleep. They told me I fell asleep under a coffee table – in a chest with blankets – and in other places as well. I guess I would tire of waiting for them and took it upon myself to know it was time for me to go to sleep. Do you like waiting for people?

Have you ever waited for someone? I remember – when I was first married – going shopping with my bride. She would go into a section of the store and I would find a seat nearby and wait. She might come out and say – do you like this – or – how do I look in this? I learned fast the correct answer (you’ll need to come for counseling – young men – to learn that answer). Soon – I learned to wait in the car where I could take a nap. I loved taking naps! Do you like waiting for people? Continue reading

October 18, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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